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The British Navy and rifled guns

The Lords of the Admiralty have given orders for the building of ten line-of-battle and other steamers, to be built at Chatham, in addition to the iron-plated frigates now in progress. At Davenport, the Ocean, a crew ship, 91 guns, has been ordered to be converted into an Iron-plated ship. Her length is 275 feet.

It was stated at Woolwich on the 18th of June, at a dinner given by the Duke of Cambridge to the Royal Artillery mess, in recognition of his appointment as Colonel of the regiment, that--

A series of interesting experiments last week was made at Shoe business, with a view of testing the effect of heavy shot on iron batteries, which had been previously found to stand any amount of pounding with the lighter projectiles from a sixty-eight pounder smooth bore. The battery was built up as a solid wall of iron, ten inches thick, on Thornycrott's system of dovetailing, and was backed up in the strongest manner with heavy timber, and braced with iron bars. It conveyed the impression that, after having stood the brunt of so much firing, the battery might, for all practical purposes, be considered indestructible. The first shot was fired from an Armstrong 120-pounder shunt gun, with a projectile weighing 126 lbs.; and such was the effect of this mass, combined with its velocity, that at a distance of six hundred yards it cleared out one of the plates 10 inches in thickness, and, at the same time, carried away the back fastenings.-- The second shot was fired from an ordinary 100-pounder Armstrong, with a solid projectile weighing 110 lbs. This struck the battery at another point, but without doing equal damage with the first shot, yet making a breach clean through the entire structure, and so weakening it as to insure its entire demolition by a few more shots. One more sufficed for the purpose, and this, the third, was directed to a part affording some stability to the superabundant mass. The missile weighing again 110 lbs., was, as before, fired from a 100-pounder gun, and it brought the whole battery, above the point struck, immediately to the ground.

At a dinner given by the United Service Club on June 8th, to Sir Hope Grant, Sir Hope remarked that he attributed no small share of his success to the Armstrong gun. These weapons were, he said, exceedingly effective. In one case a gun which caused some annoyance was disabled, and thirteen men were found lying dead near it. Another piece belonging to the enemy was struck five times in a very short period. The Armstrong gun, he said, was, in fact, the finest weapon ever invented.

Though there is some difference of opinion in the Board of Admiralty, the preference for rifled guns appears to gain ground. The Army and Navy Gazette says:

‘ "The Warrior and the Black Prince are each to have on the main deck, thirty-four 68-pounders 95 cwt., smooth bores; on the upper deck, two 100 pounders, bow and stern, pivot guns, rifled, and four 40-pounders, rifled. These guns will be provided with ammunition as follows: The broadside guns, 80 rounds; the pivot guns, 190 rounds. The armament of the Achilles, now about to be built at Chatham, is of a more formidable character, viz: forty-four 100-pounders, rifled guns, four 40-pounders ditto, and two 32-pounders, smooth-bored. These are entirely independent of 25-pounder Armstrong guns for the pinnaces and launches. It will not surprise us to hear that the armaments of the Warrior and the Black Prince have again undergone modification, and that a larger proportion of rifled guns are introduced; but the above is as the order stands at present. The Duke of Wellington, 131, is ordered to receive nine Armstrong heavy guns, similar to those supplied to the Marlborough, as already noted in this journal."

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